Stomach sleeping is how many Americans prefer to sleep. However, sleeping on your stomach can have serious long term problems. Millions of Americans suffer from back and neck pain. Often times this pain is reoccurring. Extended periods of pain have also been known to decrease the quality of life.

Many people don’t realize that their sleeping position may actually be what’s causing their chronic back and neck pain. About 1/3 of every day is spent sleeping. People who sleep on their stomachs are spending a third of their life torturing their spine. Freedom Health Centers works with patients suffering from chronic back and neck pain. We see many long term injuries from this practice and want to help people sleep better without causing severe damage to their spine.

The Negative Side of Stomach Sleeping

There are many people who say that the only way they sleep comfortably is on their stomach. However, this position puts a lot of stress on your spine, spinal discs, and nerves. Stomach sleeping requires you to turn your head to one side or the other. This puts added weight and stress on your neck and upper back. In addition to stress, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, spinal discs, and nerves are compressed. This stress and compression frequently results in chronic pain. In fact, lifetime stomach sleepers tend to show the most severe cases of degenerative disc disease due to the rapid degeneration of joints and spinal discs.

The reason this position is so bad has a lot to do with weight distribution. The majority of a human body’s weight is found in the middle of the body. When your spine is forced out of a neutral position as it is with stomach sleeping, your neck and spine have to support this additional weight. This also results in increased stress throughout the rest of your body. Nerve compression can cause pain in any area. In fact, the pain can often seem disassociated from the sleeping position. This is why many people don’t think to tell their chiropractor which position they sleep in. When nerves are compressed you can experience pain, numbness, tingling, or even muscle weakness at various points in your body.

Stomach sleeping also pulls your vertebrae out of alignment. A few nights of stomach sleeping here and there may not cause severe symptoms. However, the more you sleep on your stomach, the worse the results. Eventually, many stomach sleepers find themselves suffering from considerable pain caused by ruptured or herniated discs.

Helpful Tips for Stomach Sleeping

It’s best to avoid sleeping on your stomach. Chiropractors recommend sleeping on your back to maintain the best possible support for your spine. When sleeping on your back you should use only one pillow that supports both your head and your neck well. Many people enjoy adding a second pillow below their knees to help make them a little more comfortable.

For people who suffer from sleep apnea it is recommended that they sleep on their side. A good pillow is important for side sleeping as well. You need to have adequate support for your head and neck that keeps your spine in a neutral alignment.

If you still need to sleep on your stomach then you should use either a very flat pillow or no pillow at all. When you sleep on your stomach, a pillow can cause your neck to rest in an unnatural position. Instead of using your pillow under your head, consider placing it under your pelvis instead.

After you wake up from a night of sleeping on your stomach, carefully stretch your body to help gently move your spine back into alignment. Your chiropractor can teach you stretches that will help strengthen the muscles that support your back. Strong support muscles help your back stay in the proper alignment.

Treating Pain Associated with Stomach Sleeping

If you’re a regular stomach sleeper and live with chronic pain as a result, there are things you can do to reduce pain. First, meet with your chiropractor and discuss your symptoms. They can help determine if the stomach sleeping is causing the problem or if it’s something else.

A chiropractor can also use chiropractic adjustments to realign your spine and reduce the amount of pressure on your spinal discs and nerves. Chiropractors frequently pair with physical therapists as well. Together they can recommend specific exercises to build up your support muscles while reducing your chronic pain.

Chronic pain doesn’t have to rule your life. Lifestyle changes in addition to chiropractic and physical therapy visits can help reduce or eliminate your pain. Don’t let back and neck pain rule your life.

Call A Freedom Health Centers today at (972) 542-3300 for more information on how to break the habit and repair the damage of stomach sleeping.